Saturday, January 12, 2013

Vermont Holds Lead in Home Carnival, New Hampshire Claws Closer

Slalom winner Kristina Riis-Johannessen of the University of Vermont (photo: Cory Ransom)
STOWE, Vt. — The University of New Hampshire closed the gap in its hot pursuit of the University of Vermont in today’s slalom races.  Despite the fact that the home team Catamounts claimed victory in both slalom races with Kristina Riis-Johannessen and Travis Dawson, solid team skiing from the Wildcats enabled them to claw within 28 points of the leaders.

Soft and inconsistent snow conditions as a result of warm overnight temperatures and rain proved challenging for all athletes. In the men’s first run, 30 racers failed to finish, so even skiers who hiked and were over 30 seconds out of contention for the win still qualified for a second run. Travis Dawson overcame this adversity with a clear plan.

“After seeing the weather last night, I kind of just looked at the course this morning,” said Dawson before adding, “I decided that the best way to get down was just to really ski it clean, make as minimal mistakes as possible, and know the places where to accelerate and where to maybe be cautious.”

But New Hampshire Wildcat Sam Coffey, who also placed second in yesterday’s giant slalom, was on Dawson’s tail. He finished almost a second off the winning pace but still held onto his podium and runner-up status. Fredrik Sandell of St. Michael’s College was third.

On the strength of Sandell's result along with top 20 performances by teammates Carl Bredengen and Brad Farrell, St. Michael's was able to place third in men's team scoring for the day, a major accomplishment for the Purple Knights program. Many athletes, including New Hampshire's Coffey, were pleased with atypical results for the day.

“I knew the conditions were going to be rough from inspection, it was super soft,” said Coffey. “I just tried to have two solid runs. That’s what did it today. A lot of people went out, so it worked for me to stay on my feet.”

UVM’s Kristina Riis-Johannssen and Kate Ryley swapped positions from the giant slalom results but still claimed the first two slots in the women’s race. Riis-Johannessen was victorious by nearly 1.5 seconds over her teammate. Dartmouth’s Sara Kikut finished third, as Vermont and Dartmouth shared women’s squad victories in team scoring both tallying 122 points.

“I’ve been feeling good in training lately,” said Riis-Johannessen. “I didn’t really know how fast I was, but I guess I am fast. Today I was, and it just felt really good.”

The remainder of the UVM Carnival will be determined by Nordic races held on Feb. 2-3 at the Trapp Family Lodge.

UVM Carnival team scores at the conclusion of Day 2 (alpine only):
1.   UNIVERSITY OF VERMONT - 422.0                       
2.   UNIVERSITY OF NEW HAMPSHIRE - 394.0                       
3.   DARTMOUTH COLLEGE - 357.0                       
4.   MIDDLEBURY COLLEGE - 292.0                       
5.   COLBY COLLEGE - 279.5                       
6.   ST LAWRENCE UNIVERSITY - 270.0                       
7.   WILLIAMS COLLEGE - 250.0                       
8.   BATES COLLEGE - 232.0                      
9.   ST MICHAELS COLLEGE - 192.5                      
10.  BOSTON COLLEGE - 172.0                      
11.  HARVARD UNIVERSITY - 150.0                      
12.  PLYMOUTH STATE UNIVERSITY - 117.0                      

Finish area interview with race winner Travis Dawson: